TOUCHTENNIS may use smaller nets, rackets and courts but the new format of the sport is now starting to make a big impression.

Regular tournaments are being held throughout Essex and beyond.

And, such is the growing popularity of the game, the world’s first official touchtennis club — Essex Storm — has now been formed by Luke Mayes, a keen player of the sport.

“The response since I set up Essex Storm has been incredible,” said Mayes.

“We’ve got a club crest already, our official shirt comes out soon and Essex touchtennis is leading the way in terms of the growth of the sport and it’s starting to make other counties take note.”

Some of the country’s and even the world’s best players can be found in Essex, regularly training at Thundersley’s Seevic College.

The game is fairly similar to the normal version of the sport - only softer balls are used and no second serves are allowed.

That makes for exciting and action-packed encounters, which immediately had Mayes hooked.

“I first saw the game on Transworld sport on Sky Sports,” said Mayes.

“They had a 15-minute feature on it, with players competing from all over Europe and I was hooked from the moment I saw it.

“I then literally went straight to purchase a racket and a set of balls, and became obsessed with it.”

Within a week, Mayes had signed up to play in a tournament being held in Westcliff and was taken aback by how friendly his fellow players were.

From there he travelled further afield to play across the country and believes more people should now start to play touchtennis.

“It really is open for all standards of players, from the complete beginner to even the most experienced player,” said Mayes.

“I love just being able to ask anyone for a game, even friends that have never picked up a racket before.

“Nothing ever feels like a waste of time, it’s always fun and I always come away from the court feeling like I’ve had a great work out.

“This sport is seriously fun, I can’t state that enough and more people should definitely come and try it.”

Essex Storm is open to anyone and can be found on Facebook and Twitter just by searching Essex touchtennis.

They play at Seevic College during the week and run a number of competitions including doubles, singles, timed fastest matches and are running a league.